Coffee Shop Rules
*** I was in a Starbucks in Daegu, South Korea today. I witnessed a middle aged woman protest in vehemence and send back her coffee order. There wasn’t any English spoken, but I knew what she was saying. I knew I hated her… It prompted this post, which I hadn’t considered writing since coming to Asia.
This isn’t very masculine.
I probably shouldn’t admit it. I probably shouldn’t write about it.
I’m going to–because I like coffee and I like spending time in coffee shops.
Before I left for Asia I spent a lot of time writing and reading in coffee shops.
I developed certain routines. The staff at Starbucks and Community Coffee knew me. We had individualized greetings and gestures. This was a special time for me. I came here to get work done and to enjoy particular ambiance. I didn’t just order a Grande Americano… I ordered a Grande Americano with a muffin, usually blueberry.
Naturally, it bothered me when others would disrupt or disrespect coffee shop decorum. There were a couple times I was forced to say something to these rascals. I may shy away from confrontation in normal circumstances, but in a coffee shop setting I’m a man amongst moms and fair trade supporters.
I’ve found that here, in Asia, across a couple ponds, I feel the same way about coffee shops. I still spend healthy amounts of time in them, for leisure and work, and will still become upset when people make disruptions. It is a dishonor to me and it is a dishonor to the coffee shop.
Here are ten rules, applicable to US and foreign coffee shops. Consider them both guidelines and an opportunity to look at yourself in the mirror.
1. Relax, if they got your order wrong.
- You ordered the intricate drink. You did this. If you are really in such a rush in the mornings, don’t let a mismanaged “Tall, Half-Calf, Soy Latte At 120 Degrees” be what puts you behind.
2. Leave the barista alone.
- I put points 1 and 2 in successive order for a reason… We’ve all seen it, the proverbial coffee order flip out. We also all hate that person. If you don’t hate that person, you are that person. I love my mom, and she’s a great lady–99 percent of the time–but in a coffee shop I will acknowledge no relation to her. “IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. I SAID DOUBLE TALL–THAT’S DOUBLE–NON-FAT LATTE. CAN YOU TELL ME WHY I TASTE CREAM IF I SAID NON-FAT?… TAKE IT BACK. I THINK YOU DID THIS ON PURPOSE!”
3. Limit political discussion.
- This is important. You might think this is exactly the type of place to talk politics–it isn’t. You make other people uncomfortable. Coffee shop goers do enough to disparage liberals. I want more people to experience coffee house settings. I try to convince my friends to get work done here but it is hard to do when they show up and “Darfur” and “organic” are more readily available than Splenda. Coffee shops don’t need to be a niche for hipsters and Vegans. They can be, but don’t try and sabotage mass appeal with hair flips and capitalist condemnation. Dudes in pick-up trucks may enjoy sitting with a book and a cup of java too; if you let them.
4. Put away your Bluetooth speaker.
- Why would you come to a coffee shop if you were expecting a high volume of calls? … Insecurity. That’s the answer to that question if you weren’t sure. This is the same guy, or alpha lady, who buys the convertible in a harsh climate. Chances are if we checked your laptop or tablet, you’re browsing Amazon. Which is fine. Just, don’t ruin the atmosphere for others. No one here will be impressed you can simultaneously crush a latte and berate a co-worker, hands-free.
5. Take it outside, if you have kids.
- You’re meeting your girls and you’re bringing your two small children. You plan on catching up over a cup of coffee. This is a good thing to do. That is why any good coffee house has an outside, or separated area, for the more audibly inclined. If you have small kids, you fall under the tag audibly inclined. Your best girlfriend may enjoy conversation and a latte with your three year old son Sebastian–no one else does.
6. Respect outlet/charging occupancy.
- You need to get some work done this morning. You don’t get as much done at home because of distraction. You’re here, and you’re ready to work. You picked the table next to a dual outlet socket. First, you need to send some emails–plug in computer. You hate balancing personal and private emails so you take out your tablet and open up your separate gmail account–plug in tablet. You also don’t like interruption, so you place your phone on the arm chair a few yards away–might as well plug in and charge since you’re not using it. You’re getting a lot done when you realize you’re going to the gym after this. Nothing is worse than when your head phones die during a lift–plug in Bose Wireless headphones in same dual outlet with phone… You’re the worst.
7. Use headphones.
- This seems like something that shouldn’t need mentioning. It seems that way. A healthy amount of people will subject the rest of the coffee shop to their sound-cloud. We all respect that you write better listening to Coldplay, we just don’t want to hear it.
- Doesn’t deserve a number on this list, but just know that the dopest ringtone is “silent”.
8. Don’t steal newspapers.
- This is directed at me. I feel bad about it. When an establishment is nice enough to offer its customers the Times or USA Today, return it. Don’t bring it your vehicle when leaving, Beau.
9. Just because you’re in Asia, you don’t need to use chopsticks when eating a muffin.
- I was in a Starbucks in Daegu, South Korea. I was trying to be mindful of their culture and customs. I ordered a muffin and tried to use chopsticks to pick it apart. That’s not a sign of respect. I looked dumb.
10. If you are an employee or owner of a coffee shop in Asia, don’t put Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone out for your customers unless it is in English.
- Disheartening to American customers when “4 Privet Drive” reads: 드라이브